1. Introduction
When in the Age of Discovery European sailors set sail to discover the unknown world behind the horizon, the perception of the world employed in navigating it was often far from how we understand the world today. Still, navigation was not unsuccessful. Centuries of European consensus on the flat nature of the earth did not hinder sailors to roam -the upper-half-of it. In a similar way, dealing with long-term policy problems requires navigating intrinsically unknowable futures. For many long term issues, the future is deeply uncertain.
There is cognitive uncertainty about ‘content’ of the future – what is it that the future poses to us, but also normative uncertainty about values concerned with futures issues – how do we want the future to look like. Scholars discuss how intrinsically unknowable futures can be navigated. In the words of van Asselt (2010); the future is open,not empty. Similar to the successful discoveries of fifteenth century captains and crew, ambiguous understandings of long term policy problems can be navigated in more successful, or less successful ways.

doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2016.01.003, hdl.handle.net/1765/84301
Futures: the journal of policy, planning and futures studies
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Vink, M., van der Steen, M., & Dewulf, A. (2016). Dealing with long-term policy problems: Making sense of the interplay between meaning and power. Futures: the journal of policy, planning and futures studies, 76, 1–6. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2016.01.003